Fifth Grade

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I know it has been quite some time since I updated you.  Since my last post in September of 2014, Billy has grown, matured and learned so much.

First day of 5th grade

First day of fifth grade

In September of 2014, Billy began fifth grade.  Oh what a year it was for him.  Fifth grade began like any other year but it ended with him feeling confident and sure of himself.  He gained a sense of pride.  He grew more independent.  He also strengthened his weakened self-esteem.  He was blessed with two amazing teachers Mrs. Fritchie and Mrs. Brunner, who supported and encouraged him throughout the year and still till today they continue to cheer his accomplishments.  Billy also had two different wonderful paras who gave him guidance when needed but also gave him the room he needed to grow.

He was also blessed with amazing service providers.  I don’t know what I would have done without them through all his elementary years.  His speech therapist, Mr. Tom Daus worked so hard with him at every meeting.  His occupational therapist, Ms. S  was so dedicated in her pursuit of calming strategies for him.  His counselor, Ms. McCarthy who always listened to his needs and struggles then managed to make him feel better.  I am also thankful for his SETS teacher who was so kind and patient while helping him overcome his struggles with reading.

Now the school year began like all the other years yet it had a slightly different feel to it.  This was the big year. He would be graduating in June then moving on to middle school the following September.  There was a lot of anticipation and expectations for the year but it did not disappoint.

Early in the year, Billy volunteered to be a monitor for a kindergarten class.  When he was chosen, he came out of school beaming with pride that day because the adults in the school believed him to be responsible and mature enough to look after the little ones.  Let me tell you he successfully carried out the duties of monitor.  The children loved him.  He would talk and play with them.  He would make them laugh when they were feeling sad.  He was so good with them that some of the mothers would comment.  One day a mother from a different kindergarten class told me that she wished Billy was her child’s monitor because he would truly pay attention to them.  She went on to tell me that during recess he would organize them and play games.  Upon hearing those words, tears filled my eyes.  My boy had come so far and I was so proud of him.  At them end of the school year, the children told me they loved Billy and will miss him.  He left a lasting impression on the children which I will never forget.

Starting in fourth grade he became active in the Student Council so in fifth grade he decided to run for President of the Student Council. He loved the idea of being able to make positive changes.  He worked hard on his posters which were placed around the school.  He devoted so much effort to his speech.  The night before the election we had a talk about the possibility of not winning.  He was very understanding.  He told me that because his opponent is so popular he might not win but that would be “ok” and “I will congratulate him”.  I couldn’t be more proud of my child who learned to cope with and accept disappointments with grace.  The day of his speech his determination and confidence shined so much that the students voted for him and he became their Student Council president.

March was his annual IEP meeting.  At the meeting his teacher told me that he no longer needed the services of a para because he had grown so independent.  His service providers told me that he had come so far the he no longer needed to receive their services too.  I was blown away by how my child had learned to cope and deal with the stress and by how autonomous he had become.  Yet another encounter I had in the school that year which left me in tears.  When I walked out of school that day, I was so high in the clouds.  I had never experienced such feelings of joy.  My boy who had been dealt many struggles had learned to overcome and conquer.

Billy was also recognized at the Awards Assembly.  He was given an award for his perseverance, outstanding qualities, dedication to the school.  When his name was announced the whole auditorium erupted in applause.

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In June at the graduation ceremony, he delivered a speech to the school that had people talking about for quite some time.  He remembered to thank everyone starting with the teachers, principal, administrators and worked his way through the entire school staff.

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Yes it was truly an amazing year.  I will always be grateful to his teachers and service providers for helping Billy achieve his goals.

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Social Skills

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What are social skills? Social skills are the ability people possess that enable us to communicate and interact with others. A child who possesses good social skills will probably have an easier time making friends which will enable them to have positive experiences at school and home. Meanwhile a child with poor social skills will have a harder time making friends which could leave them feeling isolated and vulnerable to bullying.

Lisa Timms Director of Timms Social Skills Program

Lisa Timms
Director of Timms Social Skills Program

During this summer, Billy took part in a social skills program. The program was created by Lisa Timmms. Lisa Timms holds a Masters in Special Education. Her son was her inspiration for this program as he was diagnosed with ADHD, an auditory processing disorder and and anxiety disorder. Being on the battle front, she knows that learning social skills can be difficult for children with issues. This program is an online class. Children from different states took part in the class. Billy loved the class and looked forward to participating in the class. Before each class he would wonder what Ms. Timms would be teaching. Each week he looked forward to communicating with his friends.

According to Ms. Timms, “Social skills are a crucial component not only of every day life but also in academics and careers. In every day life individuals need to be able to communicate effectively with others. In academics, students need to be able to communicate effectively with their teachers in order to get the help they need. From a career standpoint, some employers now consider “soft skills” also known as “social skills” to me as important as education when looking for the right candidate for a position.”

Each week Ms. Timms would present them with a different and important topic. Her topics varied. She discussed the importance of listening, sharing and communicating your feelings. During the session in which she discussed listening, Billy learned valuable listening skills. He will be able to use these skills in school. As a matter of fact, I plan to share this information with his teachers so that they simply need to say listening skills when his mind wanders and he will refocus.

Now when Billy is placed in a new unfamiliar social situation, he refers back to what he learned in social skills class. He also wonders what Ms. Timms would say about his behavior in social situations and if she would be proud of him. For example, once while waiting for his vision therapy appointment, there was a new boy waiting too. Billy wanted to meet him so he marched over to the child and introduced himself. He then began to ask the child questions like how old are you and what do you like to do for fun. Billy was searching for common ground between himself and the boy so they could play and talk. Sadly the boy was rude. Billy came over to me and said he did what he learned from Ms. Timms. He then asked me if I thought Ms. Timms would be proud of him. I of course told him that she would be very proud of him.

While I cannot speak for the other children, I can comment on Billy’s experience. Billy thoroughly enjoyed the class and was sad when it ended. However, he will be taking the class again this fall. As soon as he was told that he would be taking the class again, he went into his room, closed the door and shouted quite loudly, YEAH!!

Children with ASD frequently have great difficulty making friends. All children with ASD are unique individuals but I am confident that many will benefit from this program.

Happy Father’s Day

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While this blog will mainly be about Little Billy’s triumphs and falls, I felt compelled to write a post about my husband because he is truly an amazing husband and father.

Billy and Dad at Beatles Fest 2014

Billy and Dad at Beatles Fest 2014

Most dads on Father’s Day get to relax and enjoy the day. However my husband is hard at work today. When he was asked if he wanted to work on this day, he didn’t think twice. Without doubt or hesistation he quickly responded, “Yes” because this is what’s best for our family at this time. Almost five years ago I lost my job. Well I didn’t exactly loose it. I know where it is. I was just replaced by someone else with different skills. Since then life has been a bit stressful trying to make ends meet. But we have looked upon this as a blessing. My job had been quite demanding. I was expected to work late hours and be available on the weekends, which did not leave me a whole lot of time to spend with my family. After Little Billy was diagnosed, we thought that now at least I would have time to dedicate to Little Billy. At that moment, my husband, Billy, vowed to work as hard as he could to allow me the time to spend helping our child.

Daddy and Billy in hospital

Daddy and Billy in hospital


Before Billy became a dad, he was scared and nervous. He was concerned that he did not have what it takes to be a great dad. He thought that he would never measure up to his own dad. The closer I came to the end of my pregnancy, the more he worried and the less he slept. But the day Little Billy was born, all his fears and worries seemed to vanish. He seemed to be in such a blissful state. The day after he was born, Billy turned to me and said that he couldn’t imagine his life without our child.

He always spends as much time with Little Billy as possible, teaching him important life skills. But once Little Billy was diagnosed he worked even harder to teach Little Billy. He has learned to have patience and understanding. Growing up certain things were easy for Billy that are difficult for Little Billy, such as playing baseball. Since Little Billy has declared that baseball is his favorite sport, Billy is determined to help him learn how to catch, throw and hit the ball, which is not an easy task for a child with special needs. Billy is there for all his games, advising and cheering for him. Even if he has to work late, he will rush from work in hopes of catching at least an inning or two. As soon as Little Billy catches a glimpse of his dad, he gets so excited and smiles from ear to ear.

Any man can be a father but not any man can be a dad (don’t know who said that). But it takes truly a special man to raise a child with special needs. A special needs child demands so much from your life. They need a hard-working and dedicated dad. They need time, compassion, patience, discipline and lots of love. They need to be taught everything like how to act in different situations and the appropriate things to say. Tasks such as zippering can be quite daunting for a child with special needs. Learning to ride a bicycle can be like trying to reach the moon.

I knew Billy would be a great dad. He worried so much about his child before his child was born. All of his worrying proved to me that he would be a great dad. If he wasn’t going to be such a great dad, then he wouldn’t have worried so much. My son is blessed to have such a dedicated and hardworking dad. We are grateful to him.

First Fathers Day

First Fathers Day

About Billy

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Before the lights dimmed

Before the lights dimmed


Pre School Graduation 2

Billy was born in 2004. As he grew from infancy to toddlerhood, his growth was typical. He smiled, cooed, laughed, stood and responded according to plan. He was singing before he could talk. His first favorite song was “The Blue Danube”, which he would hum. Around seven months he uttered his first official word, Dada. Sadly Mama was his third word.

When he was 3 1/2, he became ill. He developed C diff, which caused dehydration and high fevers. Once he recovered, he slowly began to change. He had once been a very happy easy going child who became fearful of everything. After he turned 4, he started to lose speech. Eye contact decreased. The pediatrician wasn’t concerned so neither were we, but in the back of my mind I had the nagging suspicion that something wasn’t quite right.

In Pre-K, the teacher suggested we have him evaluated because of low muscle tone and poor motor skills, which made learning to write the letters challenging. They however told us not to worry because occupational therapy would help him. Meanwhile with each passing day he was growing more distant. We contacted the DOE and went through the frustrating and emotional process of evaluation. They had diagnosed him as being speech delayed which required a SEIT six hours per week. By the end of Pre-K, my once lively, outgoing, mild mannered child was now sad, withdrawn and angry.

After the lights dimmed

After the lights dimmed

In Kindergarten the school told us he would be left back. The teacher however did not agree with this decision. She said he was a very intelligent child but needed a different setting. She also said that we should go back for another evaluation. Once again he was found to be speech delayed. He would be placed in a general education setting and receive related services. We knew more was going on than being speech delayed so we took him to see a WONDERFUL doctor. After a few visits, testing and a visit to his school, she diagnosed him with PDD-NOS. We were scared but relieved to finally have the correct diagnosis. Armed with her report, we went back to the DOE and had him reclassified which then opened the door to the proper setting and services.

With help of 2 AMAZING teachers, one AMAZING para, an AMAZING speech language pathologist, and an AMAZING occupational therapist, in first grade he began to emerge from his shell. They were nurturing, supportive, caring and understanding. Daily they helped lift his very fragile self esteem. Under their care he grew and flourished. We are forever grateful to them.

First grade

First grade

Billy is now in the fourth grade. He has come so far yet he still has a long challenging road ahead of him. Each day is an adventure full of highs and lows. We are grateful for all the progress he has made and for all the achievements no matter how small the may be.

Billy Today

Billy Today